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  Angie Trudell Vasquez
Angie Trudell Vasquez
Angie Trudell Vasquez (Angie) is a poet, writer and activist. A third and second generation Mexican-American from Iowa, she began seriously writing at the age of seven when her fraternal grandmother bought her a faux red leather diary from the downtown drug store in Newton, Iowa during summer vacation. Her father was the first person in the family to go to college and her parents read to her nightly as a child instilling a love of literature, words and justice.

In 1995, she was nominated and became a Ruth Lilly Fellowship finalist while attending Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa as an undergraduate; and has been publishing poems ever since. Her poems have appeared in print, online and on stage in the Pacific Northwest, the Midwest and internationally.

In 2003, while living in Seattle, Washington, she was a featured poet and performer at Bumbershoot, Seattle's annual music and art festival held over Labor Day weekend.

From 2009 to 2011 she was the featured poet for the Latina Monologues in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. You can read an essay she wrote about the Making of the Latina Monologues that appeared online in Verse Wisconsin and watch a video, a mini documentary made about the play that appeared on Milwaukee Public Television's Adelante.

She's had over 50 poems published to date and has written and self-published two books of poetry, The Force Your Face Carries and Love in War Time, through Art Night Books, her own label co-founded with her cartoonist husband in 2005 while living in Seattle, Washington.

She also writes op-eds for the Progressive Media Project and her pieces distributed through McClatchy have been printed all across the globe.

Swan Lake

Angie Trudell Vasquez
Girls in gossamer gowns
flit across the stage
little ballerinas in the making
before age and race add weight,
pink tights
light leather shoes strapped
on small feet,
before toe before
they are conscious
of limitations,
they all think they are
beautiful against the heat
of the mirror and balance bar
the instructor plays Swan Lake
and says imagine you are
nestled in white feathers
and draped tight in white silk
now see yourself soar
across the stage and jump
and leap and spin, see how
pretty and thin your shoulder blades,
now open your eyes and begin,
and all twenty girls run and leap
from one end to another
thinking, yes, yes
this must be how it is
to press against the sky and fly.

For Laura Who Needed a Poem After Poetry Camp

Yellow haired beauty whoops it up at night puts out her feelers for what's right, good decisions are hard to come by she thinks. I agree. Society is not cracked up to what it's supposed to be. I tell my students words hurt - words matter and I don't think they hear me until they put the Diary of Anne Frank on order with the front desk. Karl tells me as I am leaving - makes my whole day. It's our decisions that matter and a wise head prevails. My yellow haired friend, you taught me how to get along in wild nature and today I passed the lesson along and taught the inner city urban kids who are afraid of bugs how to splash in the water, pick up rocks and make them skip. By the end of the day they were doing yoga in the lake with the pure blue sky above them, the sand and rock below them. We gave ourselves pedicures in the sand and did the twist until their ankles were locked in and they had to be pulled out by a good strong friend. Some girls said, " Don't get my weave wet," and I said "Oh no, not the hair," but one girl did. She was a wild one, hair in braids, mouth moving a mile a minute, shy girls lingered at the edge but enjoyed the show, boys skipped rocks, talked poetry politics. We appreciated the wind, the waves, the water, the play, the joy of being alive and in matter. I told them I should have brought my pump because we could have drunk from Lake Michigan and they did not believe me, and I said "Oh yes, my friend Laura taught me." They said, "Miss X, Miss X, look at this rock," and we examined the fossils and dents. They lugged the special ones up and out of there - me too in my backpack. Exhausted, I peel the thin dark girl off the bus seat, she's dry now, intense, sand and rocks surround her. She's in her blue cotton sundress. I send her home to her mother but keep the poem.

Peace Brokers

Peace Brokers dance
even when there's no chance
of winning, they move to
their own beat path
plan for the best and worst
and recant all previous positions
if necessary - they are not
too proud to say they were wrong
or misguided; and listen to the hand
extended in warmth, gripping
close with their own heart
all that they hold dear; and
perchance a day of reckoning comes near
and the dead rise from their graves
find their tongue and debate
with heat about the success
of so many years spent lying beneath the grass;
the peace brokers listen, take tea,
nod when they agree,
hold up a pen
when they do not
indicating they'd like time
at the podium of truth
when the others are done speaking;
peace brokers take notes, ask questions,
and resolve not to leave the table
until all has been said, heard and agreed
until an action plan is set for the next meet
and they do not give up ever or admit defeat
because what is to gain is so sweet.

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